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Beijing Silk Market - Your Experience?

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Kuala Lumpur
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Beijing Silk Market - Your Experience?

Hi all, this is an interesting read on the silk market.

thestar.com.my/news/story.asp…

Are all the traders there that aggressive? What is your bargaining experience in the Silk Market?

San Francisco...
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1. Re: Beijing Silk Market - Your Experience?

From my experience, the article is accurate. I was told by my guide in Beijing to counter about 10 percent of what they say at first and not pay more than around 15 percent; so yes, I got some rather unhappy shop people and I ended up walking away more than once.

I don't like bargaining and I wished I'd gone in the morning instead of the end of a tiring day because I really didn't have the patience for it.

Eventually, I did get something I wanted but it took me walking away and the shop woman running after me - literally grabbing my arm - promising an amount that she then reneged on when I went back to the shop. But it was a very small amount so I bought the item. It is now sitting in this room as I type, and I'm glad I have it - but I feel like I really had to work for it!

The Silk Market certainly isn't for the faint of heart. BTW, we had a cheap, good, fulfilling meal in the basement there so that was good.

Los Angeles
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2. Re: Beijing Silk Market - Your Experience?

Thanks for the article. I would also say it's accurate although I only shopped at the Pearl Market. Bargaining did not bother me, but when the vendors would physically grab your arm as you walked by got irritating.

Sherbrooke, Canada
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3. Re: Beijing Silk Market - Your Experience?

The Silk market is the worst, I never go there anymore. Somewhat better at Ya Xiu or the Pearl Market.

Beijing
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4. Re: Beijing Silk Market - Your Experience?

pretty much dead on about both Silk Alley and Pearl Market (though I don't think the stall owners tend to get that angry). Yashow is slightly, slightly better, but pretty much the same. I've seen people go back and forth for 10 minutes over RMB20, I have no time for that, I give them a price slightly below what I'm willing to pay and maybe come up once or twice until I reach the price I'm willing to pay, then walk away and don't return unless they're willing to give me my price. It usually works and saves a lot of time.

Fort Lauderdale...
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5. Re: Beijing Silk Market - Your Experience?

The article is completely accurate. The traders are absolutely aggressive and will definitely raise their voices if you offer them a low price but if you are persistent you usually get the price you want. Offering 10% of the asking price is about right.

If you don't like people grabbing or trying to pull you into there stalls then you should avoid the Silk Market. My husband was basically pulled and grabbed on the entire time we were there. It was funny for the first 5 minutes but got old quickly.

If you like to "window shop" and wander freely without being bothered, this is not the place to be. Traders at each booth will attempt to talk to you or ask you something as you walk by and sometimes walk right in front of you so that you cannot pass without talking to them.

Also, if you are a Western, the traders seem to target you more. We were with our tour guide, Lily, and since she was Chinese the traders did not bother her much. Having Lily with us saved us a lot of time with the bargaining because she had an idea of the prices for the goods so we would only offer that price. If the traders didn't accept about going back and forth a few times, we would walk away - and either they would chase us or we would go to the next booth that had the same items and get it for our asking price.

Beijing
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6. Re: Beijing Silk Market - Your Experience?

The article is pretty accurate. Just as us shoppers have smartened up over the years so too have the vendors. The old strategy was: give them a price you wanted to pay (reasonable of course), they will inevitably say "no no no" and they bump up that price, you walk away, they chase you down and say okay. This still works at some stalls but since traffic volume, with the market being a scheduled stop of many tours, has gone way up, many of them will just wait for the right sucker(s) to come along. And they will.

Another previously-used strategy was to say "I'm not a tourist, I work in Beijing." You can still try this, but that too has little effect with many sellers now, same reason above.

So what's one to do? Hope that the seller is having a subpar sales day and bargain hard. If you don't have good bargaining skills, you really don't stand a chance (I'm in that category--that's why I always bring a friend to do the negotiating).

Or try one of the other lesser-known but similar markets -- Ya Show in Sanlitun, Jia Yi in the Lufthansa area. In the Xidan area there are several massive indoor markets. I still remember my first year in China I went with a friend to Xidan, saw a wallet I liked, asked how much. Seller said 300 yuan, and I was about to say "I'll give you 80 for it" when my friend stepped in between us and said in Chinese "stop joking around, we'll give you 20 for it." And we got it for 20!

Tip: There are periodic raids by the government/police during which time you will see a dire of certain brands (LV). Just ask them for it and they'll bring it out for you. Quality varies, and prices accordingly. If you're looking for gray market goods and top-notch copies, barely indistinguishable from the real thing, ask: "You meiyou A-huo de (brand)" (pronunciation: yow may yow A-huo de xxx). Good luck.

Kuala Lumpur
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7. Re: Beijing Silk Market - Your Experience?

Thank you all for sharing. I was kinda hoping the article is wrong :(

Amsterdam
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8. Re: Beijing Silk Market - Your Experience?

If you go there just to wander around and see if you want to buy something over there, it is like hell.

But, I still go there some times for some specific items. I just tell them "last year I payed xxx". Then they first start telling you that you are insane and that those prices will kill them, but when I stay firm and confident, mostly within 5 to 10 minutes I close the deal.

Although it can be very annoying over there, I also had some very nice talks with some sales people about their business and what their strategy for selling is. They are quit open in this and it helps you understand how to approach them.

If you have the time, regard it as entertainment. If you have less time, avoid silk street :-)

Sherbrooke, Canada
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9. Re: Beijing Silk Market - Your Experience?

I just read the article. It is not that bad. I mean, the raising of the voice and that kind of thing is not serious. They are just putting up a show. Once you agree on a price (which they previously said was crazy and they lose money) they will probably be joking around with you. By the way, if they are joking around with you when you pay, it is a clear sign that you paid too much.

and about saying that you are not a tourist and you live in Beijing, this only works if you say it in mandarin with a decent accent and carry on the conversation in mandarin.

Amsterdam
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10. Re: Beijing Silk Market - Your Experience?

JPdeM is right. If they are nice to you after the deal, you definitely payed too much.

Which in it self is not a big deal. Probably for you it is little money, and just regard it as a fee for the show :-)